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5 Holiday Decoration Guidelines for the Workplace

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

Have you prepared holiday decoration guidelines for your workplace? Celebrating the holidays shouldn't necessarily be put on hold just because your employees are in the office. However, there are legal considerations that may affect what, if any, holiday decor decks your office halls.

When it comes to the holiday decorations at your workplace this season, here are five guidelines you should follow:

  • Read up on the laws. First things first, understand the law. The laws governing private businesses, when it comes to holiday decorations in the workplace, are different from those that apply to government entities. Title VII prevents private businesses from discriminating on the basis of religion, which may affect your policy regarding overtly religious decor. If you have any particular questions, don't hesitate to contact an attorney.
  • Christmas trees are okay. If you are a small business owner, no federal law prohibits displaying a Christmas tree during the holidays. Your business may want to consider a plastic tree for maintenance's sake.
  • Be as inclusive as possible. Just because Christmas trees are allowed doesn't mean that Hanukkah menorahs are not. A good general rule of thumb to go by when it comes to holiday decorations at a private business is to be as inclusive as possible. You don't want to run the risk of not being accommodating or appearing discriminatory.
  • Banning is allowed. While it may sound Grinch-like, private employers are allowed to ban all holiday decorations, religious or not. This policy is more likely to be legally enforceable if the ban is year-round and applies to any decorations, not just religious ones.
  • Government entities are different. As mentioned, the laws governing private businesses versus government establishments are different. The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from endorsing a particular religion, which means that if you are in a supervisory role at a government office, your team should stick to more secular decorations. Poinsettias are a nice secular holiday choice.

The bottom line is -- private employers are given a much wider berth when it comes to decorating for the holidays, but every employer should strive to be as inclusive as possible.

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